The Marvin Ridge long poles were able to contain Fort Mill attacking whiz Mitch Russell on Thursday night in a 10-8 Mavericks’ boys’ lacrosse victory at Bob Jones Stadium.
Russell, who committed to Duke as a sophomore, is South Carolina’s reigning U.S. Lacrosse Player of the Year, a well known fact in the lacrosse community. Marvin Ridge, with four Division I lacrosse commitments in its ranks, including several defenders, provided the kind of physical abuse that Russell is surely accustomed to by now.
“He’s a tough kid and he takes it,” said Fort Mill coach Stephen Nadolski. “I think he steps up; the harder guys play against him, the harder he plays. It’s good to see he’s got a lot of fight in him and that will help him at the next level too.”
Russell, who entered the game with 16 goals and seven assists through four contests, scored twice and set up three more goals Thursday night, but the Mavericks were able to largely consign him to the role of playmaker.
“We tried to take away his ability to shoot and force him to feed it,” said Marvin Ridge coach John Dodd. “He’s a great player and he showed it.”
It was a good test for Russell and the Yellow Jackets, who lost in the state championship game last year and are aiming to do one better this season. Marvin Ridge, which will likely be a state title contender in the 1A/2A/3A state tournament in North Carolina, has three players, including goalie Reilly McDermott and defenseman Jason Moore, committed to Furman’s first-year program and a fourth player committed to Mercer. But it was junior Shane Hanlon who came up with the goals when the visitors needed them.
He scored twice in the first six minutes of the game, helping Marvin Ridge to an early 3-0 cushion. The hosts responded with three unanswered before the end of the quarter to tie the game. Tyler Lozinski beat his man and dished to Ethan Gray for a goal, before roll-dodging his defender and scoring to make it 3-2. Russell then muscled in on Marvin Ridge’s Jason Moore, spun, and fired past McDermott with 20.8 seconds left in the first to tie the game.
Both teams scored once in the second for a 4-all halftime score. Fort Mill notched the first two of the second half: Russell scoring on an acrobatic Superman move, laying out full stretch and finishing past McDermott, before Lozinski added his second, shooting into the roof of the net for a 6-4 lead. Marvin Ridge’s Hanlon put three straight past Yellow Jackets goalie Kyle Young to reclaim the lead, the second a nifty under-handed shot when a Fort Mill defender appeared to have handcuffed him with a timely check.
Gray’s goal with 35 seconds left tied the game at 7-all, but Marvin Ridge ripped off another three straight, including Jack Rich’s goal with 6 seconds left in the third. With about 8 minutes to play in the game, Hanlon drove left side and ripped a goal-scoring shot that made it 10-7, and rendered Russell’s late goal for Fort Mill feckless.
Nadolski lamented his team’s failure to execute on a couple of key shot attempts in the final quarter, something that Marvin Ridge was able to get from Hanlon, who led all scorers with five.
“We really needed one hot hand,” said Dodd.
Still, there was obvious improvement from Fort Mill. Dodd had complimentary words for the Yellow Jackets, who Marvin Ridge waxed 16-4 last season.
“They’re playing much better as a team,” he said. “Last year they seemed to just kind of rely on Mitch Russell too much, so we just shut him down and that was it. This year they really played well as a team, played good defense, I was very impressed. I think they’re gonna go a long way.”
Marvin Ridge 10, Fort Mill 8
INDIVIDUAL Marvin Ridge: Shane Hanlon, 5, Camden Porta 1, Jack Rich 2, Jonah Moore 1, Jared Blum 1; Fort Mill: Ethan Gray 4, Tyler Lozinski 1, Mitch Russell 2.
Records: FM 3-2.